Trish Thomas, Co-Founder + CEO (Chief Eating Officer)
I love to socialize, and I used to love to cook, eat, drink, go out, repeat. But then I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s disease, an autoimmune disease that destroys the thyroid, resulting in hair loss, weight gain, and fatigue—all of which I just thought went along with having baby #1 at 40. After baby #2, I ended up in an ambulance after drinking red wine and eating shrimp. For months my stomach hurt so badly that I was convinced I had a terrible illness, but the best any doctor could do was tell me I had Irritable Bowel Syndrome and that maybe some pills would help.
Then I started to read.
I am eternally grateful to Kris Carr for her book Crazy Sexy Diet, JJ Virgin for her book The Virgin Diet, Yasmin Ykelenstam for her website Low Histamine Chef, and Dr. Amy Meyers for her work in The Autoimmune Solution. Combined, these pioneering authors and Chicago’s Dr. Geeta Maker-Clark, an integrated medicine doctor and thought-leader in “food as medicine,” likely saved the quality of my life.
I began a series of elimination tests to see which foods associated with food allergies and related inflammation had a material impact on how I felt and looked. When I eliminated dairy and gluten, my constant stomach ache went away and so did my belly. I eliminated corn and lost 20 pounds, and started sleeping much better at night.
15 ingredients are associated with more than 90% of food allergies, intolerances, and autoimmune diseases, and most people who struggle with these are actually allergic to three or more of these ingredients. Yet most “free-from” foods only eliminate one or two of these triggering ingredients, and many are manufactured in places where cross-contamination is common.
Slowly, I came back, and my energy came back, and my life came back. I didn’t need to take any more medicine and I actually looked better in my late 40s than I had ever looked before. Bye-bye bloat.
But I no longer enjoyed cooking because I couldn’t eat most of what I was preparing to feed our family of six boys. I no longer liked to go out because it was embarrassing to explain to a waiter what I couldn’t eat. And even if I could eat something, if the food was cross-contaminated by any of the ingredients I was trying to avoid, I’d end up sick for days.
Gradually, and without realizing it, I stopped going to restaurants, I stopped hosting events, and I even stopped sitting at the table with my family during casual dinner. I couldn’t eat what they were eating, so I thought I might as well get a jump on the dishes.
How did I get here? Where was the gal who loved to socialize, cook, eat, drink, go out, repeat?
I’m what some people might call a serial entrepreneur. I started my first business in middle school (lawn mowing, snow shoveling, and babysitting) and have since launched a toy company, a safe online community for kids, and a kids entertainment company that had our Edgar & Ellen books and TV show distributed in more than 60 countries. When the debt crisis of 2008 steamrolled everyone, I swore I would never, ever, not-in-a-million years, no way, no how, never would I start another company. Never. Never ever. Uh-uh.
But as time passed, I realized that there was this giant problem out there that was worth solving – for me and for the other 30% of Americans who have dietary restrictions and preferences. 15 ingredients (the EU top 14 plus corn) are associated with more than 90% of food allergies, intolerances, and autoimmune diseases, and most people who struggle with these are actually allergic to three or more of these ingredients. Yet most “free-from” foods only eliminate one or two of these triggering ingredients, and many are manufactured in places where cross-contamination is common. Plus, let’s be honest, most of these products don’t taste like something anybody would choose voluntarily.
There had to be a way to make good, flavorful food free from all 15 of these ingredients, from the supply chain through manufacturing and packaging to the table.
I stopped going to restaurants, I stopped hosting events, and I even stopped sitting at the table with my family during casual dinner. I couldn’t eat what they were eating, so I thought I might as well get a jump on the dishes.
I made inroads at one of the largest food companies, but after nine months, their takeaway was that removing all of the allergen ingredients was “too difficult – can we just get rid of two or three?” UGH! THAT IS THE WHOLE POINT – REMOVING JUST TWO OR THREE INGREDIENTS DOESN’T MAKE IT EASIER TO EAT WITH OTHER PEOPLE. Working within a corporate food giant wasn’t going to be the answer to this problem.
So here we are, a mortgaged house, my kids way behind on haircuts, a graveyard of dying potted plants, my jeans not fitting anymore (mostly because our food is so good I keep eating it while missing too many spin classes), and my alarm going off at 5am for the last two years, so I can have two hours of focused work before the chaos starts…
But I am never, ever, no way, no how, not-in-a-million-years giving up until it is possible for everybody to eat everywhere – regardless of dietary preferences or restrictions.
It’s a big world, and I am really hungry.
That’s my story, now I want to hear yours!
Tell us how you eat with everybody at your table >